Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Farmers cautioned on high levels of liver fluke

The Department of Agriculture has warned livestock farmers to be on alert for higher than normal liver fluke levels.

The risk of liver fluke is high in all areas of the country, except for the southeast, the Liver Fluke Advisory Group has pointed out.

The advisory group has advised that farmers should treat cattle and sheep as follows:

  • For those cattle routinely housed on farms in late autumn, the timing of the administration of the fluke dose after the animals are housed will depend on the type of flukicide used.
  • Where cattle are kept outdoors on pasture for the winter, treatment should be carried out immediately and these animals may also need a further treatment in the New Year.
  • Treatment of dairy cows for liver fluke is best carried out after drying off and not during lactation.

Dairy farmers should be particularly careful to use an appropriate flukicide only, and should take the advice of their co-ops or the Irish Medicines Board in this regard.

  • As regards sheep, the advice is that stock should be dosed now, especially on those farms with a history of liver fluke.

In general, for sheep that are out-wintered, further treatments, usually in January and April, will more than likely be necessary.

  • All bought-in cattle and sheep should be kept isolated and dosed with a combination of two anthelmintics with different modes of action, eg, a macrocyclic lactone and levamisole, and a flukicide, before being allowed to join the main herd or flock.

The advisory group also advised that farmers should submit faecal samples from a representative number of treated animals to the Department's regional veterinary laboratories at least three weeks post-treatment to ensure efficacy of the anthelmintics and flukicide used.

  • Ideally, this herd sample should be taken from more than five animals.

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